This is such a loaded topic for me, but I feel that it’s necessary to talk about, especially with it being summer. I have so many thoughts running through my mind about it, so just hang tight and try to hear me out.
I’m 17 years old, and I just graduated from high school. I have had many a conversation about modesty whether it be with friends, parents, pastors, or siblings. I’ve had conversations about regular summer clothes and I’ve had conversations about swimwear. I’m not saying that my opinion is always right, I’m just going to tell you what I really think.
To start off, modesty doesn’t really even become a big issue in someone’s (mainly a girl’s) life until they reach middle school. Coming from a Christian background, I was taught to cover my body because it’s special and to be saved for my future husband. In middle school is when I started to fight modesty a bit.. I wanted to be able to wear all of the cute outfits that my friends were wearing without looking like a dork.. I wanted to fit in. I never quite understood what modesty really meant or why it was important. What I was told about modesty is that girls need to cover up so that boys don’t think bad thoughts. I’m not saying that’s a good way to define why we need to be modest, and I’m not saying it’s a bad way; it’s just the way it was explained to me.
As a teenaged girl, I am ashamed and embarrassed of my body. Everyone has insecurities, but when you add modesty into the mix, with the reason I was given, things are a bit magnified. I have long legs, no butt, and a small waistline, so finding shorts that aren’t to my knees, but aren’t too short is near impossible. Shorts were not made for my body. Long shorts fit, but they are always too hot to wear when it actually gets warm out. Maybe I should just stick to dresses.
Swimwear is a whole other issue in the summer. There is a debate of whether bikinis are an acceptable swimsuit. In a girls mind, a bikini is a way to get cooled off in the water when it’s hot out. It’s just a swimsuit. It keeps everything in place and doesn’t make you feel all frumpy looking.That being said, I have only ever owned one bikini in my entire life, and I got it the summer after I was in grade ten. Because of my insecurities about my own body and because I have always been told to cover up, I have only worn my bikini a handful of times.
I look at other girls my age and see some of the things that they wear, and just think to myself that they are so confident in their own skin, they are truly learning to love the body that they have been given. It’s not fair. I will never be able to wear a bikini in a public setting even if I was “allowed” to. This is because of the way I was taught about modesty. It was never taught to me as a way to be respectful to myself, it was always taught to me that all boys are perverted and visual and that wearing anything that showed too much thigh, too much stomach, too much breast, or even shoulders are wrong.
I personally like to give boys the benefit of the doubt and think that they are not all perverted and visual. I have heard a boys side to this stereotype and he has even said that he doesn’t like being classified like that because he thinks it’s a joint effort, and that not everything should be placed on wronging or shaming the girl by what she is wearing. I have watched videos that explain some men’s thinking on the issue and how it’s a struggle for them everyday to stay pure and to not lust after a girl. To me, that sort of lust is a temptation.. Everyone has temptations in their lives that they struggle with daily, so why is it that this one is so much more important in the Christian world?
Instead of shaming young girls and teaching them that they must cover up because of boys, let’s teach them the real reason. Let’s teach our girls to respect themselves. Let’s teach our boys to be respectful. Let your girls know that modesty is not all about the way men think. Empower young women to feel good about themselves and to be confident in their skin.
Now that I’m older, modesty has a different meaning to me. I, as a young women want respect from others, and respect myself. Therefore I dress in a way that doesn’t flaunt my body to the world to show my respect for myself. I no longer have the view that I need to dress a certain way for others, I dress the way I do because I choose to!
C’est la vie,